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Meditation

Directors of souls across all times recommend at least 30 minutes of meditation daily. Saints and other ascetical masters, understanding the importance and challenges to this divine communication, have written aids for their spiritual pupils that span from as little to a week to as long as the full calendar year. May at least one of these 40+ resources benefit your soul in this ascent.

Daily Meditations for the Whole Year (18 Entries)

Consider this your new New Years' Resolution.

Matins Lessons

Traditional Matins include a trio of lessons at the end of each Nocturn, and many days in the pre-1955 calendar have three Nocturns. In such cases, the first trio is a seasonal Scripture reading, the second is a exposition on the feast day, and the last is a sermon or homily from a Church Father. You could visit Divinum Officium (choose "Divino Afflatu - 1954" and "Matutinum") for instant access to these readings, or if you prefer a more static approach then you could consult this English translation of the Roman Breviary.

Roman Martyrology

On any given day around a dozen saints are commemorated in the Catholic Church, amounting to over 4000 a year. For centuries summaries of their bloody and unbloody victories have been recalled through the Martyrology. The latest of these accounts to be translated into English was fortuitously published in 1962.

Butler's Lives of the Saints

Rev. Alban Butler's famous Lives of the Saints, a summary of the Acta Sanctorum, comes in several different versions: a complete 12-volume set broken up by month, an abridged 1-volume work and an additional 1-volume Pictoral Lives edited by John Gilmary Shea.

The Liturgical Year

The celebrated compendium authored by Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB, the Benedictine Abbot of Solesmes, meticulously steps through each day of the Temporal and Sanctoral cycles. Adventurous types may want all 7398 pages in one PDF; others can freely peruse each of the 15 volumes individually here or here.

Divine Intimacy

This recent work by the Discalced Carmelite Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., is typically a traditionalist's gateway into the genre of meditations. Depending on which edition you have in your hands, carefully consider whether the old or new liturgical calendar is being followed.

St. Thomas Aquinas

A Dominican with a lot of time on his hands compiled the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas into a Latin devotional with the interesting title Medulla S. Thomae Aquinatis per omnes Anni Liturgici dies distributa seu Meditationes ex operibus S. Thomase depromptae. The more common excerpt from this are his Meditations for Lent (discussed later below), but an American high school teacher took on the task of translating the whole work for the benefit of his students.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori

A Redemptorist did the same as above with the writings of his saintly founder. The English translation was originally published in four two-part volumes.

St. Francis of Assisi

Flowers from the Garden of St. Francis offers short sayings from the founder of the Seraphic Order.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

A Thought from St. Ignatius for Each Day of the Year offers short sayings from the founder of the Jesuits.

Practical Meditations

Written by an anonymous Jesuit, this 2-volume work follows the method of meditation taught by the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.

New Practical Meditations

2-volume sequel to the above written by the Jesuit Rev. Fr. Bruno Vercruysse, S.J.

The Life and Teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Vita et doctrina Jesu Christi, the influential work by Fr. Nikola Avancini, S.J., has been translated into several Romance languages. Some excerpts in Spanish are among the files in this Telegram page:

 

Its sole complete English translation comes from the hand of Anglican Bishop Kenneth Mackenzie.

Considerations upon Christian Truths and Christian Duties

Bishop Richard Challoner, the same who revised the Douay-Rheims Bible into its more-legible rendering, offers in 2 volumes meditations for every day of the year.

A Year with the Saints

This anonymous work presents episodes from the lives of spiritual greats like St. Teresa of Avila and St. Vincent de Paul, giving examples on how we can go about practicing the various Christian virtues. It has been re-released by TAN under the title Cultivating Virtue. A recording of the book can be found here.

Fr. Patrick Troadec

Fr. Patrick Troadec, SSPX, offers reflections throughout the entire liturgical year in this 6-volume series.

Praying with the Saints by Season

Fr. Patrick Troadec, SSPX, offers daily wisdom of the saints in this 4-volume series, each themed to a temperate season.

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

Published a year before being created a cardinal in 1960, his Meditations for Each Day is a favorite of Fr. Prior and Fr. Z.

Fr. Andre Jean Marie Hamon

This 5-volume work by Fr. Andre Jean Marie Hamon has been making its rounds recently thanks to the efforts of some Trad Aussies and Sensus Fidelium. In one layman's opinion the content is extremely solid, but this same layman must advise that the constant references to the Paris Missal and Breviary betray its Neo-Gallican authorship (more detail on this topic can be found here and here). If you happen to harbor scruples about this, choose any other of the above works.

Weekly Meditations for the Whole Year (9 Entries)

Sunday sermons to supplement the ones you hear from the pulpit.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori

His Sermons for All the Sundays of the Year are one of the most well-known and revered collections. Recordings of all the sermons can be accessed here, or here & here.

St. Thomas Aquinas

This collection titled Ninety-nine Homilies covers the Epistle and Gospel for every Sunday of the year.

St. John Vianney

In 1901, a complete set (almost 400 pages) of sermons by the Curé of Ars were translated and published under the descriptive title Sermons for All the Sundays and Feast Days of the Year. Recordings of all the sermons can be found here. Be wary of look-alikes, though: a 1960 collection simply titled Sermons is abridged to nearly half the length.

St. Francis de Sales

For all you French readers, two collections of the Saint's Oeuvres (or Works) are available: a 12-volume Paris set edited by Louis Vivès, and a 21-volume Annecy set edited by Jean Niérat. Both sets include several volumes of his sermons for the majority of Sundays and numerous feast days.

Paris

Annecy

Rev. Leonard Goffine

The self-explanatory title of Rev. Goffine's Explanation of the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays, Holidays and Festivals throughout the Ecclesiastical Year is usually shortened to The Church's Year.

Rev. James Baxter

The work Sermons from the Latins is primarily a translation of sermons by St. Robert Bellarmine with some blanks filled in by other Jesuits in order to cover all Sundays of the year.

Rev. Martin Francis Toal

Rev. Toal's 4-volume The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers from the late-1950s presents the Gospel of the Sunday with associated commentary from the Catena Aurea followed by several complete sermons by the Church Fathers. To access each individual volume...

A partial set of recordings can be accessed here.

Fr. Franz Hunolt

Fr. Hunolt's famous Sermons is a 6-volume collection, each on a separate theme and each containing 72 sermons covering Sundays and Holydays. The English printed divided each of the German volumes in half, doubling the set to 12. The topics covered are...

  • Volume I: The Different States in Life

  • Volume II: The Seven Deadly Sins

  • Volume III: Penance

  • Volume IV: The Christian Virtues

  • Volume V: The Four Last Things

  • Volume VI: Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, and the Saints

Bp. William Durandus

Durandus's illustrious Rationale divinorum officiorum, or “Rationale for the Divine Offices," is a key resource on medieval liturgical customs. Two of its eight books offer reflections on high feasts during the year: the Proper of the Time (Book 6) and the Proper of Saints (Book 7). It is of course accessible in Latin, though the entries for some days have been offered in English by the editor of New Liturgical Movement.

Monthly Meditations for the Whole Year (5 Entries)

Focus your prayer intentions month-to-month on a particular virtue to practice or a Holy Personage.

School of Christian Perfection

In this instructional work, St. Alphonsus de Liguori desires that his spiritual children learn the following virtues...

  • January: Faith

  • February: Hope

  • March: Love of God

  • April: Love of Neighbor

  • May: Poverty and Detachment

  • June: Chastity

  • July: Obedience

  • August: Meekness and Humility

  • September: Mortification

  • October: Humiliation

  • November: Prayer

  • December: Self-Denial and Love of the Cross

Divine Intimacy

The meditations in this book are loosely arranged according to the Carmelite monthly themes...

  • December - The Ideal: Holiness, Intimacy with God, The Apostolate - The Mystery of the Incarnation

  • January - Jesus: His Person, His Works, Our Relations with Him - The Church - The Sacraments

  • February and March - Interior Purification and the Exercise of Abnegation - The Passion of Jesus

  • April - The Life of Prayer

  • May - Our Blessed Lady - The Holy Ghost

  • June - Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - The Sacred Heart of Jesus - The Most Holy Trinity

  • July - The Divine Perfections - The Theological Virtues

  • August and September - The Moral Virtues - The Gifts of the Holy Ghost - The Beatitudes

  • October and November - The Apostolate - Union with God

A Year with the Saints

The accounts of the saints are arranged according to a specific virtue to practice...

  • January: Perfection

  • February: Humility

  • March: Mortification

  • April: Patience

  • May: Meekness

  • June: Obedience

  • July: Simplicity

  • August: Diligence

  • September: Prayer

  • October: Confidence

  • November: Charity

  • December: Union

Monthly Dedications

You may know that October is the Month of the Rosary, but what of the others? Well, as it turns out...

  • January is dedicated to the Holy Name and Childhood of Jesus

  • February is dedicated to the Holy Family

  • March is dedicated to St. Joseph

  • April is dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament

  • May is dedicated to Mary

  • June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

  • July is dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus

  • August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

  • September is dedicated to the Seven Dolours of Mary

  • October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary and the Holy Angels

  • November is dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory

  • December is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception

Feast of the Apostles

The Church has wisely spread out the feasts of the Apostles and Evangelists to have the end of almost every month commemorated by one...

  • January 25th - The Conversion of St. Paul

  • February 24th - St. Matthias

  • (March 25th - The Annunciation)

  • April 25th - St. Mark the Evangelist & The Greater Litanies (Rogation)

  • May 11th - SS. Philip & James the Lesser

  • June 29th - SS. Peter & Paul

  • July 25th - St. James the Greater

  • August 24th - St. Bartholomew

  • September 21st - St. Matthew

  • October 18th - St. Luke the Evangelist

  • October 28th - SS. Simon & Jude

  • November 30th - St. Andrew (and the start of his Novena)

  • December 21st - St. Thomas

  • (December 25th - Christmas)

  • December 27th - St. John

Daily Meditations for a Liturgical Season (7 Entries)

The penitential seasons of Advent and Lent are a rich soil for intensive meditation.

Advent Readings from the Fathers

Sequel to the Lent Readings below, also edited by the Anglican priest William James Early Bennett with translations from the Library of the Fathers. It covers the First Sunday in Advent through Christmas Day.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori - Advent

The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ; or, the Mysteries of the Faith by this Doctor of the Church covers the First Sunday in Advent through the Baptism of Our Lord. It has recently been published by TAN under the title The Road to Bethlehem.

St. Francis de Sales - Advent

Nine sermons by the saintly spiritual director (from the Annecy set) covering the span between the Second Sunday in Advent and the Second Sunday after Epiphany. This is the fourth volume in the series by TAN.

Lent Readings from the Fathers

Sermons by various Church Fathers edited by the Anglican priest William James Early Bennett. The translations come from the Library of the Fathers, fruit of the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement spearheaded by Edward Bouverie Pusey and John Henry Cardinal Newman. It covers Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday. Recordings for each day, formatted for burning onto five CDs, can be found here.

Marquess of Bute - Lent

John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, was an English convert whose claim to fame in today's Tradisphere is having had translated the entire Roman Breviary for the 20th Century Anglo (see "Matins Lessons" at the very top of this page for a link). From that, he compiled a Lenten devotional with 40 lessons from the Church Fathers with 13 hymns interspersed throughout.

St. Thomas Aquinas - Lent

Segment of the Medulla Meditations (first section above) covering the days from Septuagesima Sunday to Holy Saturday. Unfortunately, modern reprints excise the entire Septuagesima season. In this vein, a partial recording (starting at Ash Wednesday) can be found here.

St. Francis de Sales - Lent

Twelve sermons by the saintly spiritual director (from the Annecy set) covering the span between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This is the third volume in the series by TAN.

Daily Meditations for One to Four Months (6 Entries)

Works for helping one make a retreat.

St. Francis de Sales

Arranged by his saintly spiritual daughter St. Jane Frances Frémoit de Chantal, Meditations for Retreats is a veritable school in the progression through the different stages of the spiritual life.

St. Louis de Montfort

His seminal True Devotion to Mary (translated into English by the illustrious Fr. Faber) must be read in its entirety before anyone dream of consecrating themselves to Jesus through Mary. Once one is called to undergo consecration, the saint prescribes (Part II, Chapter IV, Paragraph 227) 33 days of preparation. In the 1940s, the Montfort Brothers proposed a collection of readings for each preparatory period from which all other consecration guides are derived.

St. Benedict

The Rule of St. Benedict is regular required reading for those praying the Monastic Breviary. For any others who would like to read this work in a systematic way, the linked PDF suggests a four-month reading plan.

Bishop Richard Challoner

The good bishop returns with the interestingly-titled Think Well On't, or Reflections on the Great Truth of the Christian Religion for Every Day in the Month. A recording of this work can be found here.

Don Gaspar Gilli

Don Gilli is the editor of The Month of Mary, According to the Spirit of St. Francis of Sales, a retreat with daily meditations by the great saint for the month of May. A clean PDF version can be accessed here, though it may take time to load.

Rev. François Nepveu

The English-translated work Meditations for Every Day in the Month is an abridgment of Pensées, ou Réflexions Chrétiennes pour tous les Jours de l'Année by Rev. François Nepveu, S.J., and sets out to train readers on practicing mental prayer according to the "modified Sulpician method."

Daily Meditations for One to Two Weeks (6 Entries)

Meditations for special short periods of the year (Octaves, Novenas, etc.).

St. Robert Bellarmine - Passiontide

The Seven Words from the Cross: A Devotional Commentary is an apt companion for the two weeks of Passiontide.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori - Pentecost

During Ascensiontide and in anticipation for Pentecost., St. Alphonsus offers a Novena to the Holy Ghost. This is followed by meditations on the Gifts of the Holy Ghost that one can make during the Pentecost Octave.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori - Corpus Christi

Meditations during the Octave of Corpus Christi.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori - Sacred Heart

Also during the Octave of Corpus Christi, a Novena to the Sacred Heart.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori - Last End

Sometimes appended to the end of his Preparation for Death, his Maxims of Eternity guide a soul on a one-week retreat in meditating on their last end. You can also listen to these readings here.

  • Sunday: The End of Man

  • Monday: The Importance of Our Last End

  • Tuesday: Mortal Sin

  • Wednesday: Death

  • Thursday: Judgment

  • Friday: Hell

  • Saturday: The Eternity of the Pains of Hell

Daily Dedications

The days of the week traditionally have distinct dedications, usually based on the votive Masses assigned for the day...

  • Sunday is dedicated to the Resurrection & the Holy and Undivided Trinity

  • Monday is dedicated to the Holy Ghost & the Souls in Purgatory

  • Tuesday is dedicated to the Holy Angels

  • Wednesday is dedicated to St. Joseph

  • Thursday is dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament

  • Friday is dedicated to Christ's Passion and His Sacred Heart 

  • Saturday is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and her Immaculate Heart

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